Holiday party DIY

A&E’s guide to throwing a party that doesn’t involve a beer pong table.

Kara Nesvig

Face it âÄî weâÄôre getting older. Soon weâÄôre going to have to helm our own holiday cocktail hours and assorted feasts, so we better start learning now. Perhaps the spirit of these festive times have you feeling thankful for your friends and you want to celebrate turkeys, baby Jesus or just the end of finals and fall semester. Unsure about how to plan the best party possible? HereâÄôs some advice from the pros at A&E. (WeâÄôve had a Thanksgiving potluck two years running.) Party preliminaries First, decide what kind of party you want to have. If itâÄôs a foodie shindig, enlist all your friends to make one dish or another. Make sure they sign up for their specialty, because nobody wants to eat four green bean casseroles. If itâÄôs a cocktail hour (or night), go to SurdykâÄô s and chat up one of their specialists about wines and mixology. Once youâÄôve figured out the basics, choose a theme. What do you want your guests to wear? Think upscale and chic for a holiday party. Send out the Facebook invites, but if you live in an apartment, consider your neighbors and limit it to about 25 or so folks, max. Creating the ambiance Most important rule of party-throwing? Clean your residence! (Especially the bathroom.) Get a few Voluspa votives from Patina for $7 to improve the air quality and establish whether your guests can wear their shoes. If you have a kitty, be a good host and consider allergic friends. (Clean the litter box too.) Pick a color scheme. Involve a few friends or roommates in the decorating; have them make doppelganger hand turkeys for a Thanksgiving feast or glitter a bunch of third-grade snowflakes to hang from the ceiling. DonâÄôt go all freaky Martha Stewart overboard, but do put some thought into it. Make place cards for your guests with stickers or doodles âÄî sure, itâÄôs childish, but itâÄôs fun. (If your mom is a scrapbooker, she probably has a bunch of crafty materials you could put to use here.) Cover your furniture with bed sheets if you donâÄôt want red wine splatters. If youâÄôre into Jackson Pollock, though, donâÄôt fret. Set up a photo booth in a corner and furnish a few props for your guests to utilize. Sunglasses, hats, feather boas âÄî let them be creative, and as they get drunker, the pictures will get more and more âĦ innovative. Make playlists. Here are some tunes that work magic for us: For dining: local band Hildur Victoria , Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday , Gonzales, Wilco , the âÄúCharlie Brown ChristmasâÄù soundtrack For dancing: the Kills , Yeah Yeah Yeahs , N.E.R.D , Sam Cooke , Miley CyrusâÄô âÄúParty in the USA,âÄù Jackson 5 , Phoenix , Lady Gaga Culinary tips 1. Know your audience. Are any of your friends vegetarian? Do they have allergies? Trips to the ER arenâÄôt the most fun way to cap off an evening. 2. Plan in advance. DonâÄôt have the oven running while guests are arriving. Tiny houses get hot real fast. 3. It might be bad for the environment, but to avoid a next-morning freak-out, get disposable dishes. Tell your guests to label their cups so they donâÄôt use twenty of them. Adapted from the fine recipes at FoodVu.com, here are a couple cocktails that would pair perfectly with the chilly season. (If your 21-plus) Smashing Pumpkin Spice 1 part Goldschlager 1 part Irish Cream 1 part Kahlua Red Hots Fill the bottom of a martini glass with Red Hots. Shake up the booze in a martini shaker and strain it into the glass. If youâÄôre extra fancy, put a little cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice on top. Malibu Baked Apple 2 parts coconut rum Cranberry juice Apple juice Combine your ingredients and microwave it until itâÄôs just toasty enough to drink.